September 28, 2008 / Fall 2008 / Staff Management

The journalism boost

Written by Idea File Staff

Study shows high school journalism students perform better academically overall.

When looking at budget cuts, you might wonder what local school board would cut the “Critical Thinking in Today’s World” class.

But yearbook and newspaper teachers and advisers know that when schools consider dropping the journalism program, that is exactly what they are doing — cutting a program that teaches critical thinking, leadership and time management, among other adult skills.

For administrators and school board members who need proof of the value of a journalism program, the Newspaper Association of America Foundation released a study earlier this year that shows high school journalism students earn higher grade point averages and score better on the ACT test than non-journalism students.

The study, called “High School Journalism Matters,” was conducted for the NAA by Jack Dvorak, Ph.D., director of the High School Journalism Institute and a professor of the School of Journalism at Indiana University. The study examined high school grade point averages and ACT performances of 31,175 students who are attending or have attended colleges and universities in all 50 states and some foreign countries.

About 20% of the study group worked on a high school newspaper or yearbook. In a comparison of the journalism group to the entire group, the data shows that high school journalism students achieve “statistically significant” academic success than the non-journalism students on these points:

  • High school overall grade point average
  • ACT composite score
  • ACT English score
  • College freshman English grade
  • College freshman grade point average
  • High school math grade
  • High school science grade
  • High school social sciences grade

This study reflects the findings of a 1987 study conducted by the Journalism Education Association.

“We wanted to know if these kids still out-performed non-journalism students, and they do,” said Sandy Woodcock, NAA Foundation director. “That still holds true.”

The study does not answer the question of whether journalism improves school performance or the brighter students are just attracted to journalism.

“(This research) suggests that if student achievement is the goal, then schools would be well-served if they offer students the opportunity to work on high school newspapers and yearbooks,” according to the introduction of the study’s full report.

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.